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“No, you can’t have a sleepover but your friends can stay as late as they want."

“No, your friends can’t hang out in your bedroom right now but you can hang out in our heated garage.”

“No, your friends can’t come inside the house and no, you can’t go inside your friend’s house.”

Friends, I’m exhausted talking to my teenagers about this and I’m weary that this has gone on for so long. To be quite honest, I’m over this...

What I thought was going to be a few days off from school is now approaching the ten month mark....

But I know deep inside, I have to remain positive and stay grounded to keep our family safe.

But today I was also reminded, from a stranger, how I have to remain diligent as a mom.

A delivery person called to confirm a flower delivery and began to pour out his heart, sharing with me how he lost his dad to Covid.

His dad was a healthy 72 year old man who, within days, was placed on a ventilator and never came out of the hospital.

This young man was weepy sharing his story. He willingly opened up his deepest wounds about how he was able to hold his dad’s hand and how he is one of the lucky ones since his dad didn’t die alone.

This man’s personal encounter with Covid needed to be heard through my Bluetooth, in the car, for my teens to hear.

His message was needed as my girls too often forget why we are sacrificing being indoors and sleepovers with friends right now.

One day though, it won’t be this hard...

And on the days I begin to feel filled with frustration, I simply need to go back to this phone call.

My answer of “no”, is to keep our neighbors safe.My answer of “no”, is to protect the health of my family members. My answer of “no”, is often not the path other people are taking, and at times it’s not fun, but the big picture is more important to me. I just hope one day my teenagers see this as well.

So for now, I have to remain confident and comfortable being the “no” mom.

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But I sure do miss our old ways...

I miss the girls having friends over laughing in the kitchen and hearing all about college applications and life in high school while munching on endless bags of chips.

I miss making waffles, the morning after a sleepover, and watching the girls walk downstairs in their oversized sweatshirts and messy buns.

I miss the hustle and bustle of what my house once was... a place where kids were in and out all of the time, side doors slamming and laughing...Lots and lots of laughing.

But I really miss saying yes...

these girls miss their friends and sleepovers.

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I am really patiently waiting for the day I can start to say “yes” again and again and again...

Yes, to the sleepovers.

Yes, to the snuggles on the couch, with a friend, watching a movie and sharing a bowl of popcorn.

Yes, to a handful of teenagers hanging out in the kitchen eating whatever leftovers I have in the fridge.

Who knew one simple word could mean so much?

I see the light and know the bend in the road is coming soon... the road we all miss and hold close to our hearts in memory, but also a road that will be the same, yet different, once we embark on it again.

So for now, I will continue to look forward to the day I can say “yes.”

A “yes” that is filled with every ounce of confidence, stored within this heart of mine, knowing my family and all those around me will remain safe.

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Ali Flynn lives in New York with her four teenage daughters and husband. She is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents and Her View From Home. You can also find her at https://www.facebook.com/hangintheremama where she keeps motherhood real.

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